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Tourists attracted to party atmosphere at demonstration sites in Bangkok
Despite court warrants to arrest 19 key protesters the People’s Democratic Reform Committee have vowed to continue their rallies in Bangkok. Top PDRC leader Sathit Wongnongtoey said, from a stage in Bangkok that all 19, including leader Suthep Thaugsuban would nether stop the demonstrations or escape. He said “we will give ourselves up to the authorities once the prime minister resigns, an arrest warrant was once issued for Mr. Suthep but he insisted he would fight on”.
However, far from putting people off the protests are becoming something of a tourist attraction, hundreds of tourists have been ignoring advice to avoid the protest areas and have gone along to join the party atmosphere. During the daytime speeches broadcast on giant screens have been known to turn in to impromptu karaoke shows and in the evenings bands take to the stage to perform Thai ballads and western rock songs. The streets are littered with food sellers who are doing a roaring trade. Dozens of western tourists have been spotted around Siam Square taking photos and walking around the tents.
“I wouldn’t want to miss it,” said Jack Watson, a graduate from Birmingham at the gathering in Siam Square. On a gap year trip with two friends, he claimed he was “not overly concerned” about the Foreign Office’s warning. “It’s really interesting to see what political disagreement looks like in a culture that’s so different from ours.
In the meantime the Royal Thai Army has refused to comply with the government request that they deploy troops to protect the PM. Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul has made the request after anti-government protesters led by the People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD) targeted a Ministry of Defence building where Ms. Yingluck held meeting with her Cabinet members. “No one should expect the army to suddenly send troops without proper request, because that′s against the procedure,” Lt.Col. Winthai explained, adding that the army is still waiting for “more clarity” from Mr. Surapong in his requests.
Meanwhile rice farmers from western provinces are continuing their Rama II Road blockade at the Wang Manao intersection in Ratchaburi’s Pak Tho district, which began on February 1. Protest leader Rawee Rungreung said they would also rally at the ministry to demand answers about their pledged rice and overdue payments.